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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 12/31/21

Guests: Paul Krugman, Michele Bratcher Goodwin


US unemployment rate near historic low at 4.2 percent, millions of open jobs in robust labor market. Biden infrastructure investment coming to states in 2022. Congress will push to pass historic social investment Build Back Better Bill in new year. How the media should cover GOP election lies in 2022. We will get the Supreme Court`s decision on the first direct challenge to Roe v Wade in more than 30 years.



LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening and welcome to a special holiday edition of THE LAST WORD.

2022 will be the year of the all-important midterm congressional campaigns. Mitch McConnell has already said Republicans won`t be running on any issue. Here`s the headline. McConnell -- "No legislative agenda for 2022 midterms.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won more votes than any other presidential ticket in history with a campaign that promised to, first, fire Donald Trump and then launch a massive public health campaign, including vaccination to fight COVID-19 and pull the American economy out of the pandemic recession." So, how is the Biden-Harris team doing?


JOE BIDEN, (D) 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We passed two historic pieces of legislation, the American Rescue Plan delivered immediately to millions of people and rescued the economy from the brink.

We`re going faster than any other nation in the world in terms of our growth rate. Since its passage, we had a record number of jobs -- we created over 6 million jobs since January 20th.


No new president ever created that many jobs this quickly. And we`ve seen the extraordinary drop in unemployment. We passed the most important piece of infrastructure legislation that has ever passed, since the - at least the Eisenhower Administration that built the Interstate Highway System.

And this law is going to create million of jobs -- good-paying jobs you can raise a family on.

KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As of now, we have, had, as in past tense, lifted 40 percent of America`s children out of poverty.


Let`s reflect on that. Let`s reflect on what that means. For generations, talk about transformative, talk about return on the investment. You all know elections have consequence. Elections matter. And it`s not about a victory celebration, not about a pat on the back. It`s about then what can we achieve with the time that we have that directly impacts so many people.


O`DONNELL: And in the most ignored, huge accomplishment of the Joe Biden- Chuck Schumer partnership, President Biden has nominated and Chuck Schumer has confirmed more lifetime appointed Federal judges than any first-year president since Ronald Reagan.

Joining us now is Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. He is an economist for The New York Times and a distinguished professor at The City University of New York Graduate Center.

Professor Krugman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Let`s hear your review of the Biden-Harris first year of the administration.

PAUL KRUGMAN, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS - GRADUATE CENTER OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, AND COLUMNIST - THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh, I mean, by most normal standards, this has been -- first of all, the social stuff, the American Rescue Plan did make an enormous difference to millions of lives.

The infrastructure, you know, infrastructure became a running joke for four years. Now it`s for real. There`s a lot of other stuff I would like to see happen, but it`s a lot. And we have had an extraordinary jobs recovery in spite of -- there are some glitches.

I know we`re going to talk about inflation, but we are far closer to regaining the jobs lost due to the pandemic than, I think, almost anybody expected. So by most normal standards, this has been a really good year. Trouble is actually convincing enough people that that has actually happened.

O`DONNELL: Inflation is a worldwide phenomenon now. How much of the inflation that this country is enduring now is attributable to government policy?

KRUGMAN: I would say not very much. There`s some. We -- those programs, the American Rescue Plan, sustained purchasing power and Americans have been buying a lot of stuff and a lot of what they`ve been buying is physical stuff.

You couldn`t go to the gym, so you bought exercise equipment. And that has clogged supply chains and that`s part of the reason for the inflation.

But, the fact of the matter is a lot of it is really independent of anything that any president could have done. A lot of it has been oil prices, although those have come down a lot in the last few weeks and that will help. But, this is -- the idea that this is a Biden inflation just doesn`t stand up if you try to talk about it.

And if you ask -- Republicans are condemning it, but if you ask, so what would you do? How would you bring inflation down? How would things be better if Donald Trump were still in office?


They have absolutely no answer.

O`DONNELL: I know economics is not supposed to be a predictive discipline, but you`re called upon to do so all the time. As you look forward into 2022, what would you expect, given what we know now, to see happening in the economy?

KRUGMAN: I think that the economy will continue to grow, to add jobs. Not probably as fast as it has because we`ve gained so many already, it`s not - - particularly among prime-aged adults, we`re pretty close to where we were before all of this nightmare happened.

So -- but we`ll continue to add jobs. Inflation will come down. It will probably still be high. There`s enough stuff in the pipeline, things like rents on new apartments are way up, but the overall rent index doesn`t reflect that because a lot of people are still on their old leases.

That sort of thing will mean that inflation continues for a while, but I -- look, the Fed has released its own projections. It expects inflation to come down but still be somewhat high over the course of next year. It expects unemployment to continue to fall.

I`m kind of -- I can`t make much of an argument with that. I think where we are is a situation where we will still have things to complain about, but it will actually look a lot better a year from now than it does now.

O`DONNELL: Will it be possible for inflation to decline more rapidly in the United States than in other countries that are also enduring inflation right now?

KRUGMAN: Quite possibly because some of the things that have driven it up are kind of uniquely American, not because things are bad, but because they`re good.

Because we supported income so well, we`ve been buying more stuff, durable goods, sorry jargon, but the stuff that comes in on those container ships that are parked outside the Port of Los Angeles, we`ve been buying more of that than anybody else because we`ve done such a good job of keeping people`s incomes up and as those bottlenecks ease, inflation will come down a lot more in the United States than it will in other places.

O`DONNELL: If you could spend a few minutes sitting in the Oval Office on January 1st with the president, what would you tell him?

KRUGMAN: Oh, I think mostly it`s about messaging. I mean, the policies -- I mean, I hate to sound, you know, everybody knows my politics, but this is a very intelligent administration. It has not done anything stupid. There are very few things that it has done that are obvious, clear mistakes, and a lot of things that is done are really good. But the message often seems to be kind of weak.

They should be hammering those job gains, I mean not just an occasional press conference from the president, but they should be out there all the time.

They should be talking about what would things be like if Republicans got their way. They should be saying, you know, people want to take away those Child Tax Credits, they`re making it possible for you to afford food for your families. So, I think -- usually, I hate this kind of thing, but right now the messaging is terribly important.

O`DONNELL: Joe Manchin seems to think there`s a serious inflation risk in the -- what`s left of the Biden legislative agenda that hasn`t yet been enacted or carried out. What would you say to Joe Manchin about that?

KRUGMAN: I`d like him to talk to a high school math teacher. I mean, really seriously, the numbers are just not there. I mean, the Build Back Better is a -- is not that -- it looks like a lot of money -- a trillion here. You always sound like Dr. Evil, $1 trillion, but the U.S. economy is enormous, and the amounts of money that we`re talking about largely paid for with new taxes are just not enough to be a source of inflation.

I mean, one thing, you can -- when you talk about the American Rescue Plan, which was $1.9 trillion in one year, now we`re talking about $1.7 trillion largely paid for over ten years. That`s just not a big inflationary thing.

O`DONNELL: Professor Paul Krugman, always an honor to speak with you. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

KRUGMAN: Take care.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And coming up, the political media still hasn`t adjusted to the new reality that the Republican Party no longer believes in democracy and is changing state laws now that might allow them to change the outcome of elections. Professor Jelani Cobb and Jonathan Alter will join us next.



O`DONNELL: 2021 is the year the Republican Party officially defected from democracy. They are a minority party with no hope of ever winning the most votes for president, so they are now focused as they were on January 6th with trying to steal the presidency through the Electoral College. They have passed state laws intending to suppress democratic votes, and if necessary, the change outcomes of elections in some states.

Some journalists are alerting their colleagues that they need a new approach to political coverage. Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post, "We need a skeptical, independent press, but how about being partisans for democracy?

The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative, and we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians. Too many journalists are caught in a mindless neutrality between democracy and its saboteurs, between fact and fiction. It`s time to take a stand."

And joining us now, Jelani Cobb, staff writer for The New Yorker and professor of journalism at Columbia University. Also with us Jonathan Alter, columnist for The Daily Beast. Both are MSNBC political analysts.


Professor Cobb, in 2021, what should the -- what adjustments should the political media be making in their approach to the coverage?

JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER - THE NEW YORKER, PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM - COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: There are a lot -- I mean there are a lot of things that we learned or should have learned, rather, from what we saw unfold from really 2015 to present, but we`ve been slow to see those things translate into how coverage has changed. The first is that it is absolutely true that we`re supposed to have a vantage point.

What we`ve done is mistaken or substituted a kind of even handedness for neutrality, meaning that you would treat things that are fundamentally dissimilar as if they`re the same in the name of objectivity, but what that actually does is normalize the thing that has become unusual.

In this case, we`ve seen a number of things, an array of things, we could create a catalog of things that are not just outside the norms of politics, but actually detrimental, inimical to democracy in this country by the widest and broadest understanding of it.

When we look where we stand on the democracy index and see our numbers declining and seeing that we are considered a flawed democracy, things that have been just not in dispute. These are not partisan elements here.

The media should approach this with that sort of critical eye, that we should not give platforms to people who are consistently mendacious. Now, of course, I am not na

And finally, I think that Margaret Sullivan has a really great point in which she says that we should stop having reporters consider themselves covering politics, instead have them covering government because politics is treated like sports, but covering government requires that you look at ethical questions, that you look at issues of democracy, that you look at what exactly is being done to the governing structures of the country.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, there are three subjects in front of us. Professor Cobb has just distinguished between politics and government, and there`s a third, which is the politics of governing. And the politics of governing is what we`re seeing the media attempt to cover when they`re chasing Joe Manchin down a hallway with a microphone. Actually you don`t have to chase him that much, he usually turns and says something. But, that`s also a tricky arena in which to try to bring a careful eye to what`s being said.

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST - THE DAILY BEAST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYSTS: Yeah. Look, the media needs to make a major new year`s resolution. We need a new paradigm, a new lens on American politics. And it`s not that, you know, people should go easy on Joe Biden. When -- after Dana Milbank wrote a piece, I wrote a piece, some other people wrote pieces calling for an end to this neutrality. The response was, "Oh, you want the press to go easy on Biden?" No, I don`t want that.

We need to maintain the adversarial relationship between the press and the White House that we`ve had for 150 years in this country. It doesn`t have to go away. But it shouldn`t dominate the way it is, and the access around which coverage turns should be changed to democracy and anti-democracy. So, our adversarial approach should be directed not at -- not just at people in government, but those who would assault our system and undermine our system. And the coverage, honestly Lawrence, has been kind of pathetic.

So, just to take the Eastman Memo, this was a sketched-out coup attempt. It was a blueprint for a coup and the networks didn`t even cover it on their evening news broadcast. You had people in the states who were basically trying to rig future elections, very little, if any, coverage. This should be top tier. And other things, chasing Joe Manchin around, that`s fine. That has its place. But that should be below the number-one story, which is will our democracy survive?


And to the question of whether the press should be neutral, the press wasn`t neutral about fascism in the `30s and `40s. The press wasn`t neutral about civil rights in the 1960s; they weren`t giving even Steven phony- balanced coverage to segregationists. The press today is not neutral about climate change.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobb, what does the world "neutral" mean in journalism?

COBB: Well, I mean, neutral has generally been taken -- it`s supposed to mean that you don`t approach a story with a particular agenda, that you`re not more favorable to one party than you are to another party. And that`s admirable. But what winds up happening is that we round things up or round them down to equivalence, and that becomes dangerous.

When you start talking about things that are truly inimical and hostile to democracy in the same tones as you talk about things that are just kind of day-to-day occurrences in a normal functioning democracy, what you do is lull the public into a false sense of complacency.

And I would say one other thing that`s really crucial to Jonathan`s point, we need an accord. We need some sort of document that press organizations can sign on to in terms of how we will approach covering fascism and covering authoritarianism in the United States.

We really need more than anything else to be able to get on the same page about how we`re going to deal with this looming crisis in front of us.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobb, you are invited to do the first draft of that accord that we will all then consider joining. Professor Jelani Cobb, Jonathan Alter, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

COBB: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, the testimony you must hear. Unfortunately, it is testimony that the Supreme Court did not hear. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: In 2022, we will get the Supreme Court`s decision on the first direct challenge to Roe versus Wade in more than 30 years. During oral arguments, the Republican-appointed justices showed no comprehension of the lives of poor women and girls who seek abortion services.

Michele Goodwin, a professor of law, who has written books about abortion laws, shared her deeply personal story in a New York Times article and on The Last Word. And it is the essential testimony that the Supreme Court never heard. They never talked about it, not once in 90 minutes.

They didn`t have a discussion about the pregnancies that result from rape and incest when the Supreme Court was hearing arguments about a Mississippi law that would outlaw all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, including pregnancies that are the result of rape and incest. Rape and incest were completely ignored by the Supreme Court justices who are considering taking away American women`s right to abortion services.

But they did find time to talk about adoption. Here`s Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggesting that there`s no real need to terminate pregnancies if, after carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth, the mother could then terminate her parental rights by putting the baby up for adoption.

It doesn`t seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden. And so, it seems to me that the choice more focused would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks or the state requiring the woman to go 15 weeks, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion.

The state requiring the woman to carry the pregnancy and then terminate parental rights through adoptions. Opponents of abortion like Amy Coney Barrett don`t think that sounds unreasonable at all, but how would that sound even to them, the opponents of abortion, if we changed just one word? How would it sound if it said the state requiring the girl to carry the pregnancy? Or what if we picked specific cases, real cases of real tragic and horrific suffering and said the state requiring the 12-year-old girl to carry the pregnancy and then terminate her parental rights?

The Amy Coney Barrett side of the argument never uses the word "girl" to describe who needs abortion services in this country. Michele Goodwin teaches constitutional law at the University of California and in a New York Times op-ed piece, she writes this. Like a military draft, the state has coercively conscripted rape and incest survivors to endure one more tremendous burden, to take another devastating physical and mental hit, to tie their lives to those of their rapists.

This time it is state lawmakers who strong-arm their bodies into service. This draft, the pregnancy draft, is warfare at home and the state leaves its girls on the battlefield to fend for themselves. The Republican- appointed Supreme Court justices were not willing to frame any of their hypothetical questions around rape and incest pregnancies of little girls.

But that is what they are going to be ruling on, what happens to those little girls. Those justices do not dare acknowledge the existence of those little girls who become pregnant through rape and incest.

Michele Goodwin`s op-ed piece is titled, "I Was Raped by My Father. An Abortion Saved My Life." It is the single most important article published in this latest round of the national discussion about abortion. It is an astonishing piece of writing that ranges from the tragically autobiographical to the scholarly analysis of the law.

In the essay, Michele Goodwin reveals, quote, "It was the early morning of my 10th birthday, the first time that I was raped by my father. The shock was so severe that I temporarily went blind before I began the fifth grade a few weeks later.

The physiological suffering that I endured included severe migraines, hair loss and even gray hair at 10 years old. At age 12 I was pregnant by my father and I had an abortion.

Before we got to the doctor`s office, I had no idea that I was pregnant. My father lied about my age and the circumstances of my pregnancy informing the doctor that I was 15 and that I had been reckless with a boyfriend.

Nobody ever wants to write about such experiences exposing intimate aspects of one`s life, revisiting traumatic aspects of childhood. Yet the lack of compassion and the hubris that underlie the Mississippi and Texas legislation deserve a response.

With those laws, the state has in effect forced girls to carry the burden of its desires, forcing many of them to risk their health and even risk death by remaining pregnant."

Joining us now is Michele Bratcher Goodwin. She is the chancellor`s professor of law at the University of California Irvine and the author of "Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood."

Professor Goodwin, I have to ask, were you surprised that in that 90 minutes there was not once, not once, a mention of, a discussion of, a real discussion and exchange about rape and incest and little girls?

MICHELE BRATCHER GOODWIN, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA IRVINE: Unfortunately, I was not surprised that this was lacking in the questioning from the justices themselves, that it was an issue that was not raised.

But what is so horrific is that both in the Texas law and in the Mississippi law, there are no exceptions for instances of rape or incest. And so it`s quite ironic that given that that was very specific in these laws, that the justices didn`t address it at all.

O`DONNELL: You write in your piece about your own experience. "My father`s predations were hidden behind wealth, social status, and his acting the part of the committed and attentive parent. I attended elite schools in New York City, studied ballet at a renowned academy and took private violin and tennis lessons. My father never missed a parent-teacher conference."

And I think in that sentence and others in your piece we have to realize there`s no way of knowing who this kind of thing is happening to.

GOODWIN: That`s absolutely right. So when the Texas governor, Governor Abbott says I`ll just be tough on crime and we`ll just get rid of the rapists, many Americans think about that as the creepy guy driving around in the white van that`s all sealed up.

And what we fail to pay attention to is that these are phenomena that happen throughout our society, across all socioeconomic strata. And that these are fathers that are doctors, that are lawyers, that are in legislatures, and that may be judges themselves. And this is the disconcerting part.

And I think if we actually look at the way in which some judges have ruled in cases involving incest it`s quite striking, the very limited sentencing that some of these fathers get.

O`DONNELL: Professor, one of the things that I was feeling was that the -- certainly the Republican-appointed justices have no comprehension of and no curiosity about the real lives of little girls and women who do not have financial resources, who do not have choices in life generally, never mind in their particular states, the choice of abortion services.

GOODWIN: That`s right. And I think it`s really important to read Judge Carlton Reeves` lower court opinion in the Mississippi case. So the reason why it has not gone into effect is that there is a judge, Judge Reeves, who wrote a stunning opinion with wonderful footnotes identifying how harsh Mississippi has been as a state to the interest of women and specifically the interest of black women.


Let`s be clear that states like Mississippi and Texas have amongst the highest maternal mortality rates in not just the United States, in the entire world. There was a time just a few years ago that Texas was considered the most dangerous place in the developed world to even be pregnant.

Fannie Lou Hamer famously spoke about the Mississippi appendectomy, referring to 11- and 12-year-old girls who were forcibly sterilized, black girls, in the state of Mississippi.

So it`s really hard to take seriously these states saying that their efforts are out of love and care when in fact that`s never really been shown in the arc of history in those states regarding black women and girls or generally any women who happen to be vulnerable and poor in those states.

O`DONNELL: It seems if the court rules in the way it seemed to be leaning, toward in effect overturning Roe versus Wade, that what Roe versus Wade at this point is -- at this point protecting in America are the rights of poor women, women who don`t have significant means, who live in Republican- controlled states, who will then change the laws and restrict abortion or ban abortion completely.

The wealthy women in those states will easily be able to travel to other states that provide abortion services. And of course, the big Democratic states will preserve abortion rights as they have them now.

And so a majority of the population, actually, will be living under Democratic state governments that preserve all of Roe and more.

And so it`s really at this point the protection that was being debated really in the Supreme Court was really just the protection of women who don`t have the means to create their own choices in these situations.

GOODWIN: That`s right. And that`s really why the choice framework, though really important, is more illusory than real. That`s because for very poor women, it`s very difficult.

Let`s be clear, in Mississippi there is only one abortion clinic that remains in that state. It`s a deadly proposition to carry a pregnancy to term in that state. And even more generally, a person is 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term than by terminating it.

So we have to look clearly at what these states are doing. Given the data that we already know, the high death rates, the expense and cost, the various wait times and other things that have been imposed in many ways this is not just a health risk, but it`s life and death for a number of women. And we`ve not been serious and direct about that.

And the judges who are involved in these cases in the legislatures have not really been called on the carpet to not only look at what happens to girls but also to look at their life and death scenarios in the United States.

I want to share one thing, and I know we`re tight on time, but the United States ranks 54th in the world in terms of maternal health and safety. It`s safer to give birth in Bosnia or Saudi Arabia than the United States. So these laws in many ways are a deadly proposition.

O`DONNELL: Professor Michele Goodwin, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We`re going to post a link to your article, which is the must-read article in this subject that I really want everyone to see.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

GOODWIN: Thank you so much for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, former police officer Derek Chauvin is in prison tonight for the murder of George Floyd, a crime that might never have been exposed were it not for the bravery of 17-year-old Darnella Frazier. That`s next.




JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY DISTRICT COURT: We, the jury in the above entitled matter, as to count 1, unintentional second degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty.

Verdict count 2. We the jury in the above entitled matter as to count 2, third-degree murder perpetrating an eminently dangerous act, find the defendant guilty.

Verdict count 3. We the jury in the above entitled matter as to count 3, second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant guilty.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what the Minneapolis Police Department told us on May 25th of last year after George Floyd died.

"On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 p.m., officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress.

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.

Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later."

End of story. End of police story. That was it. That was the lie they were going to get away with. That was the lie the police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were going to get away with.

No police officer was going to contradict that story. Not one of those cops on the scene was ever going to tell the truth about what happened to George Floyd. Never.

But their story fell apart overnight thanks to one person. Darnella Frazier had been on this earth for less than half the time of Derek Chauvin`s time on this earth but at 17 years old she knew how to do the right thing.


Darnella Frazier aimed her phone at Derek Chauvin and George Floyd and held it and recorded every minute of what Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd. Even when Derek Chauvin threatened her with mace, Darnella Frazier held her ground and she kept recording. She then posted her video on Facebook and the police lie instantly began to crumble.


CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Probably close to midnight a community member had contacted me and said, "Chief," -- almost verbatim but said -- "Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 30th and Chicago?"

And so once I heard that statement, I just knew it wasn`t the same milestone camera video that I had saw. And eventually within minutes after that I saw for the first time what is now known as the bystander video.


O`DONNELL: Darnella Frazier changed the police chief`s mind about what happened on that street and the next day Derek Chauvin was fired.

When Darnella Frazier testified in the trial she said she wished she did more.


DARNELLA FRAZIER, RECORDED GEORGE FLOYD`S DEATH: When I look at George Floyd, I look at -- I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles. Because they are all black.

I have a black father. I have a black brother. I have black friends. And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them.

It`s been nights. I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life. But it`s like, it`s not what I should have done. It`s what he should have done.


O`DONNELL: All three of the other police officers on the scene could have done more. Each one of them could have intervened and knocked Derek Chauvin off George Floyd`s neck.

But they did not have Darnella Frazier`s courage. They did not have Darnella Frazier`s sense of duty to the sanctity of another -- the sanctity of life of another human being.

Derek Chauvin is in jail tonight awaiting a sentence that could leave him in prison for the rest of his life. And that happened because Darnella Frazier pressed "record" on her phone, because she knew something had to be done for George Floyd and that was the only thing she could do.

Tonight on her Facebook page where she posted her video of George Floyd taking his last breath, Darnella Frazier wrote, "I just cried so hard. This last hour, my heart was beating so fast. I was so anxious. Anxiety buzzing through the roof.

But to know guilty on all three charges. Thank you God. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. George Floyd, we did it. Justice has been served."

Derek Chauvin was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. Three other officers who were at the scene charged with aiding and abetting George Floyd`s murder are scheduled to be tried in March.

And all four former officers are facing federal civil rights charges for depriving George Floyd of his constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force. Derek Chauvin changed his plea and is now pleading guilty in that case.

In June, Darnella Frazier was awarded a special Pulitzer prize for producing the single most important piece of video journalism, which then became the most important piece of evidence in the most consequential case of police use of deadly force in history.

Coming up, a teenage girl in Malawi who many of you met on this program five years ago is now much closer to achieving her dream of becoming a doctor.

The remarkable Joyce Chisale is now a student at University of Malawi College of Medicine. Joyce will tell us how it`s going, next in tonight`s LAST WORD.



O`DONNELL: Five years ago on this program, we introduced you to the remarkable Joyce Chisale, who was 13 years old and had just been sent home from high school in Malawi because her family could not pay the school fees. Public high school is not free in Malawi.

When I met Joyce, I told her she wouldn`t have to worry about school fees anymore because, thanks to your generosity, she would receive a scholarship from the KIND Fund, Kids in Need of Desks, the partnership I created between MSNBC and UNICEF to deliver desks to schools in Malawi and provide scholarships for girls to attend high school.

Joyce told me on the day we met that she wanted to be a doctor and a poet. And then recited a poem that many of us will never forget.



JOYCE CHISALE, KIND FUND SCHOLAR: My poem is entitled "Little By Little".

O`DONNELL: "Little By Little".



CHISALE: Little by little we`ll go. No matter how far the distance is, we are not shaken. Little by little we`ll go and reach our destination.

Little by little we`ll go. No matter how bumpy or rocky the road is, we are not going to turn back. Little by little we`ll go and see through our dreams.

Little by little we`ll go. No matter how narrow the path is, we`re going to force ourselves to pass. And little by little we`ll go, and reach the promised land.

Don`t be shaken. Don`t turn back. Little by little you`ll go and reach your destination.


O`DONNELL: Joyce has reached the next stop on the road to her destination. And a few days ago, she told us how it`s going in her first year at the University of Malawi College of Medicine.


CHISALE: My journey at the university for my first year has been good. It has been exciting. And it`s been an adventure and as well as stressful because there`s a lot of work.

Yes, the workload is very huge as compared to the workload we had at high school. So yes, it has been stressful. But it has been wonderful at the same time, because I`ve learned a lot of new ways on how to manage my time, how to tackle my workload. Yes. It has been good.


O`DONNELL: Joyce has the enthusiasm for her classes of a student who feels very lucky to be there.


CHISALE: My favorite classes here have been biology, chemistry, as well as mathematics. In biology, it has been exciting because yes, we learned a lot of things about the human anatomy. We went deeper myself, and it`s been good to be solving math (ph) and chemistry has been challenging. We`re going to find out more about the chemical reactions of bodies. Yes, the chemical equations. So, yes, it has been good.


O`DONNELL: And now, it`s time for Joyce`s first college exams.


CHISALE: We`ll be studying our end of the year -- end of year examinations soon. And the evaluations are very good. Yes. Although there are some things that are difficult but it`s been wonderful to have new friends to help me. We had good discussions.

So I`ll be very glad to finish my foundation year so that I can actually start my first year of medico-laboratory (ph) sciences.


O`DONNELL: You can help other students achieve their dreams and your dreams for them by going to

You can give a desk or a girl scholarship as a gift to anyone on your holiday gift list, and UNICEF will send them an acknowledgment of your gift. No contribution is too small.

Joyce made me promise that she would get this LAST WORD tonight from her heart to yours.


CHISALE: To the people who are donating to the KIND Fund scholarship, you`re doing a great job out there. You are helping a lot of girls including me.

And on behalf of all the girls I would like to say thank you for your support. May you continue having that heart to support others. May God bless you.


O`DONNELL: Joyce Chisale once again gets tonight`s LAST WORD.

And from all of us here on THE LAST WORD team and MSNBC, thank you for watching this year.

Good night.